Kevin V. Hunt
Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger , Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director
Recently I had the unique opportunity to showcase some Scouting history at our stake’s Family History Discovery Day. I thought that Scouting and family history actually fit well together. But, a couple of people came to my display tables and acted a bit confused. A couple of people said under their breath – not knowing that I was listening – “What does Scouting have to do with family history?” Good question!
Months before this event I had been invited to be a part of the steering committee for this big stake and community event. I joined the planning committee wearing two hats. One was in my role as the Stake Historian. The committee wanted to have the event well documented in our history for this year. My other requested role (by the committee chairman) was to show some of the Scouting history of the stake. Sure … I could do that!
My display tables – and I had three of them – one for Scouting and two for general personal and family history were kind of unique. And I admit, they did stand out a bit.
This was a major family history conference and displays were plenteous in the large gymnasium and conference room – in the historic Interstake Center in Mesa, Arizona. Many local genealogical and family history groups or organizations had been invited to participate. Most of their displays had a computer as their main feature. And on these computers, volunteers or companies showed off their latest and greatest tools to do family history research. My Scouting table was full of “Scouting stuff” that I have collected through the years. So, the tables did catch a few eyes – but I think a great many people enjoyed browsing it all.
First I’d like to take a moment to define “family history”. When most folks think of family history, I believe they think of Grandma or Great Aunt Clara – who spent their lives researching the family lines and creating pedigree charts and family group records. That is actually how I got started. I was age twelve – when I took up most of my life hobbies and interests – many of them through Scouting leaders. At twelve, I was put into a Sunday School genealogy class that went for six weeks. That was kind of a short class but it was enough to get me hooked. And so for most of my teen years – when I wasn’t doing Scouting – I was doing family history research and created many of those charts which I put into a “Book of Remembrance”. (And Grandma Augusta Hunt and I were a team!)
Over the years, I have come to learn that family history goes way beyond all those charts and family trees. I believe that family history really is creating a record of our lives and those of our ancestors. The family history I have enjoyed the most is when I have been able to find photos and histories for the people on those charts. That is when their lives have come alive for me (even if they have been dead for decades). Also, I now believe that each one of us has the opportunity and even the responsibility to create records of our life and times here on earth. And these records can be for ourselves as well as for our current and future posterity. The Book of Revelation in the Bible says (Rev. 20:12), “… and the books were opened, And another book was opened, which is the book of life …” Joseph Smith expanded on that theme when he taught that “the books spoken of must be the books which contained the record of their works, and refer to the records which are kept on earth. And the book which was the book of life is the record which is kept in heaven …” (D&C 128:7) And then in the next verse, he says, “… Whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven, and whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven.”
Wow! That is pretty strong. So, yes, records of our lives really are an opportunity and a responsibility. And so, with that background, I believe that we should work hard to create records of our lives – all facets of our lives. But, those records don’t need to be limited to paper and computer files. I think that there are a myriad of ways that we can record our personal histories and those can be different for each individual and family. I would suggest that each one of us figure out some way to use and show our talents in the preservation of our histories.
Our histories can include various chapters of our lives – such as our spouse and families, our education, our life’s work or vocation, our hobbies and interests, and much more. As I look back at my own life, I realize that most of my life has included involvement in Scouting in one way or another. That is probably true for most of us. If we were Cub Scouts and Scouts in our youth, and then served for even a few years as a Scouting volunteer, we soon see that Scouting has been much of our lives – and so well worth documenting as a major chapter of our lives. If it is worth doing, it is worth recording. And that applies to Scouting.
So, how to do it? What can we do to document our Scouting history and heritage? There really is no set way to go about it. Use your imagination and begin to create some interesting records of your Scouting lives. It doesn’t matter what you do … just do something! And begin to do it now.
I might be a bit overboard with history and records and Scouting heritage, but here are some ideas that I have done. I am not saying that you should do them all. Pick a few of them for yourself and begin to document your Scouting life and times. Here are some items that were a part of my Scouting family history display that day:
Personal Journal: I have blogged on this subject many times. But, with a personal journal with daily entries for over forty years, I have much written about Scouting events and good times that I have been a part of through the years. And it is such fun to go back and read those entries. It is almost like doing it all over again.
This past summer my wife and I were on the staff at Camp Newfork – operated by the Trapper Trails Council. I wrote extensive journal entries of the summer experience and added many photos to them. I later blogged these journal entries on The Scouting Trail with the full series summarized in the blog It was Quite the Summer at Camp New Fork.
Walking Sticks: This may sound unique, but I have a hobby of carving walking sticks. I don’t just carve them to be carving but they actually contain a lot of history. I try to carve a new stick at or for each camp that I go to – and each one has carved into it memories about the particular camp. These are great conversation pieces with my children and grandchildren – and Scouts everywhere.
Framed Awards: As I completed my youth phase of Scouting, my mother had me collect all of my badges and she put them into a nice frame for my future enjoyment. She made one for my Cub Scout awards and another for my Boy Scouting years.
Neckerchief Blanket: My wife did a great thing for me. She got all of the neckerchiefs that I had earned or received through the years (including those from when I was a Cub Scout, Scout, camps, and for everything since). She sewed these all together into a giant king-sized (at least) blanket. And then she sewed the patches from the various events – onto the appropriate neckerchief. So, there is a multitude of neckerchiefs and a couple of hundred patches.
Excel Spreadsheet: I created a spreadsheet to document my years of Scouting service. I have a line for each Scouting position and then columns for the positions, when I served, the unit number, the chartered institution, people involved in that role, and more. When I wanted to provide documentation for a major service award, I went back through my journals and recorded information for each position through the years.
Slide Show: I went through the house and collected my Scouting photographs from their various hiding places in closets, drawers, boxes, etc. I then sorted these by date and experience. I then created Word documents for the various Scouting events through my life. I could have used PowerPoint to create these but didn’t. On each page, I had a title, sometimes a brief description of the event, people, etc. And I scanned and inserted into each page four or five photos. And after I created these pages, I then saved each page as a PDF document. This was a major feature of entertainment for a Jubilee Celebration which I recently staged for myself. I showed the slide show at the event but also printed each page and had it bound into a nice book for me and for my posterity.
Scouting Book Collection: Scouting has changed much through the years – yet it is so much the same as ever. And through the years, a plethora of books and handbooks have been generated. I have a major handbook collection. It has my old “Lion” Cub Scout book, my own Scout Handbook, a 1928 “Rally Book” and more. I even have a collection which includes every edition of the Scout Handbook. My son, Rusty, and I created a beautiful red oak with glass doors display case to keep these in. It is magnificent!
Awards: I am not one to tout or brag about awards that I have received, but I do have them collected in a single spot/box for my own enjoyment.
Uniforms: I have kept my uniforms that I have worn through the years. And some of these are really “vintage” now. I have my old Cub Scout uniform, several of my Scout uniforms, and many uniforms, jackets, hats, etc. that I have worn through the years. When our first daughter was born, my mom even took one of the old uniforms and created a little girl dress that Jackie wore in parades (when we marched with Scouts) and to other places.
Photos: Take photos at every event. You never know when you will want these for a slide show or other special event. Mark the photos with the name of the event, when it was, who is in the photo, etc. And with today’s electronic technology, there are a multitude of great programs or ways to organize and store your photos.
Court of Honor Programs: I created PowerPoint presentations with a lot of photos for each of my three sons on the occasion of their Eagle Scout court of honor programs. These have become valued treasures for them and for me.
Books from Journals and Personal Experiences: I go a bit beyond what most folks would, but I have compiled several books from my Scouting experiences as recorded in my journals and personal memories. I am just now beginning to market and publish these.
Troop Reunions and Histories: I have been the catalyst to stage several troop reunions through the years. “155 … The Best Alive”. At these reunions I take a lot of photos and have old Scout friends record a paragraph or two of their memories. And then I have compiled all of these into a history of the troop through the years. I have created a mini book or history and have shared this with those who came to the reunions – and any others that I’ve run into beyond the reunions.
Letters and Certificates: I am only about half way through this project but I collected all of the certificates, thank you letters, correspondence, and anything paper about my Scouting times and am scanning these and putting them into a book for my own use – and for my own posterity. I will create a printed book – or book of originals for myself – but after it is scanned, I can store it and share it with my posterity.
Traditions: These are not always visible (though you can use the ideas presented here to make them such), but it is important to have strong family Scouting traditions. Keep these alive and keep doing them. For instance … in our family we have a long-standing tradition of becoming Eagle Scouts. And in the case of me and my sons, we each have maintained the tradition of each receiving three or four palms beyond Eagle. Have traditional events, outings, and programs with traditional family or Scouting friends. Document you and your group doing these things.
Oral Histories: Set yourself – or your Scouting parents, wife and children – down and have them tell stories of their Scouting experiences. With today’s electronics there are so many options for recording your histories and memories. FamilySearch.com has some great ways to permanently record your history and your photos. Check it out! You might want to interview and record your old Scoutmaster, Scouting Friends and troop-mates, and others who have been a big part of your Scouting experience. (And don’t forget to do this for yourself!)
Well, again, you may not be able to do all of these things. I have done them … but that it is me and who and what I am. My challenge is to look at your own life of Scouting (and other) experiences and then find the best way(s) – that is so you – and which uses your abilities and talents (and the help of others) to record those great Scouting moments. And when you start doing this, you’ll probably catch the spirit of the whole history thing and you’ll want to do more and more.
And so, back to our original question: What does Scouting have to do with family history? I think it has a lot to do with it … Scouting is a big part of your life so it deserves to be a part of your personal, family and troop histories. Find ways to get the two together … and you will have much joy and happiness through bringing them together. You’ll be glad that you did it – and so will your posterity and Scouting friends. Scouting with family history … what a novel and wonderful idea!
And I would love to help you personally to explore ways to do all of this. Feel free to contact me! I would also enjoy hearing or seeing what you come up with for yourself!
Best wishes along your Scouting Trails … Kevin
See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger. Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”, and others at his Scoutingtrails website. Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy Scout, The Scouting Trail and the Voice of Scouting. Feel free to comment on anything you read! Find Kevin on Facebook at: Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.
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@ 2017 Kevin V. Hunt